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43 M'sians were on ill-fated MAS Flight MH17

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A Malaysian passenger airliner with 298 people on board crashed in Ukraine today.

The Boeing 777-200 was flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur and was due to arrive at 6am.

Reports also claimed that the plane could have been hit by a missile as it flew over a conflict zone.

Reporting by Nigel Aw at KLIA and Susan Loone in Penang. Photos by Lim Huey Teng

LIVE REPORTS

6.30am: Taman Selamat, Bukit Mertajam - Jijar Singh, 71, father of crew member Sanjid Singh Sandhu,said he was heartbroken to hear about the news as Sanjid is his only son.

Jijar was told about the news about 4am by his daughter, who is currently in Italy.

"He was supposed to come back today after he touched down in KL at 6pm," Jijar said, in between sobs.

Sanjid, 41, used to return home often to see his parents.

"I just had two by-pass surgeries and my whole body is shivering.

"We are in such a sad state," added the former TNB staff.

Jijar said his son was not supposed to be on the flight but switched with another colleague.

Jijar claimed his daughter in-law, Sanjid's wife, was also supposed to be on the Flight MH370 which went missing on March 8, enroute from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.

She is also a flight attendant but she had switched shifts with a colleague and was saved.

5.51am: Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak demands "swift justice" if Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 was shot down in Ukraine.

However, he said, Malaysia has yet to confirm Ukraine's claim that Russian-backed separatists shot down the aircraft.

Meanwhile, MAS disclosed the nationalities of those on board:

- 154 Dutch

- 43 Malaysians

- 27 Australians

- 12 Indonesians

- 9 Britons

- 4 Germans

- 4 Belgians

- 3 from the Philippines

- 1 Canadian

- Unverified: 41

Total 298

Codeshare airline KLM says MAS' MH17 emergency hotline is +31 70 3487770

5am: Russian President Vladmir Putin says Ukraine bears responsibility for the crash of MH17.

News agencies quoted a statement from Kremlin which stated Putin ( left ) opened a meeting with his economic advisers by calling for a moment of silence over the crash.

"This tragedy would not have happened if there were peace on this land, if the military actions had not been renewed in southeast Ukraine. And, certainly, the state over whose territory this occurred bears responsibility for this awful tragedyPutin said.

Tapped phone calls prove rebels responsible

4.58am: US Vice-President Joe Biden says MH17 was shot down. "It was not an accident, (plane was) blown out of the sky," Reuters quotes him as saying.

4.37am: EuroControl says MH17 was flying in open airspace but about 1,000ft above a closed section of airspace, reports Reuters .

4.10am: The Kyiv Post reports on intercepted phone calls between Russian military intelligence officers and members of separatist groups.

The recordings, in which the rebels confirm to have shot down MH17, were released by Ukraine's security agency, SBU.

The conversations also reveal the shock in discovering that the plane was a civilian aircraft.

According to the report, one of the calls was made some 20 minutes after MH17 crashed. The call was made by Igor Bezler, whom SBU claims is a Russian military intelligence officer and leading commander of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic.

The news portal also published a full transcript of the phone conversation, which has been translated into English.

Confusion over black boxes

3.20am: In a statement on its website, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) said: “Based on the information currently available it is believed that the airspace that the aircraft was traversing was not subject to restrictions.”

3.09am: The Telegraph reports that there is confusion over MH17's black boxes. The Ukrainian military is claiming that the pro-Russian separatists have recovered the boxes.

2.46am: The New York Times reports that many of the bodies were largely intact. This, it adds, indicates that the plane may have made a controlled landing.

'Sister was coming home for Hari Raya'

2.42am: A teary Noraini Mohd Noor says her sister, who has been living in Geneva, was to come home for Hari Raya and was transiting at Amsterdam.

She says her 67-year-old sister had been living in Switzerland for the past 30 years and has not been back to Malaysia for five years.

Her sister was to be in Malaysia for six weeks during the Hari Raya season.

Her nephew, who was also supposed to be on the flight, decided not to at the last minute.

Noraini is also upset with MAS for its slow response .

2.37am: A commercial pilot has told The Telegraph that he is surprised at the route by MH17 since a Ukrainian transport plane had been shot down earlier this week.

"Flights have already been diverted away from Crimea," said Danny Fyne. "I find it unusual that the flight went over this area."

He was also quoted as saying that it should also have been clear to both civilian and air traffic controllers that the Boeing was a civilian aircraft with a secondary radar system picking up both the plane's altitude and unique call sign.

2.30am: The Telegraph reports that Ukrainians based in London are calling for a rally tonight outside the Russian embassy to protest against the MH17 tragedy.

The protesters will leave flowers at the Malaysian and Dutch embassies prior to the protest.

2.26am: The Telegraph reports that a Dutch passenger, Cor Pan, took a photo of MH17 from the departures lounge of Amsterdam airport.

He captioned the image: "If it disappears, this is what it looks like."

'Pray for our daughter'

2.22am: More family members have arrived at the KLIA viewing area.

Seeking confirmation on whether his loved one was on the plane, one of them said: "I want the passenger list.”

However, an airport security officer replied: "I know, please wait."

No MAS officials appear to be in the area.

2.15am: The parents of Nur Shazana Mohd Salleh, 31, a stewardess onboard the ill-fated MH17, have expressed shock over the incident.

Speaking to reporters in Penang, her father Mohd Salleh Shamsuddin, 54, said: "She is my daughter, pray that she is safe. She is single, hoping to get her married soon."

"She felt that this month is special for her," he added, fighting back tears.

Nur Shazana's mother was too distraught to speak to the media.

1.49am: Journalists have converged outside the viewing area at the KL International Airport but are not allowed in by airport security.

They have been informed that the operations centre will be based at the adjacent Sama-Sama Hotel which was the same place journalists were based during the Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 incident.

Some family members have also arrived but were also not allowed in and referred to MAS staff. They refused to speak to the media.

Najib is presently being briefed at the MAS Emergency Operations Centre.

'It was a terrorist act'

1.56am: Ukranian president Petro Poroshenko says bringing down of Malaysian passenger plane was a "terrorist act", reports Interfax .

1.52am : The agency also reported that the number of fatalities is more than 300, and this includes 23 US citizens.

1.50am : According to Politico.com , US Senator John McCain, a member of the Senate Armed Services and Foreign Relations Committees, vowed that there will be "hell to pay" if the plane was shot down by the Russian military or separatists.

"But if it is the result of either separatist or Russian actions mistakenly believing this was a Ukrainian war plane, I think there's going to be hell to pay and there should be."

1.40am: Najib is currently being briefed on the status of MH17 at the Malaysia Airlines Emergency Ops Centre at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport.

1.16am: Rescue workers say they have found at least 100 bodies, near the village of Grabovo, spread across an area of up to 15 kilometres, Reuters reports.

Broken pieces of a wing with the colours red and blue were also found on scene.

"I was working in the field on my tractor when I heard the sound of a plane and then a bang and shots.

"Then I saw the plane hit the groud and break into two. There was thick black smoke," a witness, who gave his name only as Vladimir, told the news agency.

Investigation launched, PM says

1.06am: Najib expresses shock over the crash on Twitter and says that an investigation has been launched.

Meanwhile, Russian president Vladimir Putin extends his condolences, The Guardian reports.

Pictures by a Reuters correspondent at the scene on the news agency's website shows what appears to be a part of the wing and other parts of the plane strewn about in a smoky area. 

Kiev and separatists blame each other

12.53am : MAS issues a statement saying that it lost contact with MH17 at 1415 GMT, 50km from the Russia-Ukraine border.

The plane departed Amsterdam at 12.15pm and was due to arrive in Kuala Lumpur at 6.30am local time.

12.41am: Ukraine separatists deny that they shot down the plane and blamed Kiev instead.

Separatist leader Aleksander Borodai tells Russian state-owned Rossiya 24 TV that it was shot down by the Ukraine Air Force.

12.30am: Russian president Vladimir Putin discusses the crash with United States President Barrack Obama, Reuters reports.

Burning wreckage, bodies on the ground

12.28am : A Reuters correspondent on the scene in the town of Grabovo reports seeing a burning wreckage and bodies on the ground.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak is reported to arrive at a Malaysia Airlines operations centre being set up at KL International Airport shortly.

12.24am: Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko denies army shot down MH17, dpa reports.

 

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